Gerald Eugene Stano
Odyssey of Murder
Stano realized the walls were closing in and decided that he would have to arrange a plea bargain in order to save his own skin. Prosecutors had the confessions, but they did not want to risk a long court battle and agreed that if Stano pleaded guilty to the murders of Mary Carol Maher, Toni Van Haddocks and Nancy Heard, and that his confessions in the other cases would be read into the court record, he would receive three consecutive life sentences, each carrying a mandatory minimum of 25 years behind bars. Stano agreed, and on September 2, 1981, Judge S. James Foxman accepted the plea bargain and imposed the three life sentences.
"Mr. Stano," said Judge Foxman, "the information before me, these three cases, lead me to believe that the death sentence may very well have been appropriate in any of those three cases. Perhaps all of them. I reluctantly agreed not to sentence you to death, to eliminate the possibility of the death penalty."
Gerald was taken to the county jail and later that week transported to the Florida State Prison.
He enjoyed bragging about his crimes and reveled in all the publicity he got while in the county jail. In state prison, however, no one seemed to care about him. This agitated Gerald and he decided to contact Crow and finish clearing the books -- even if it meant he could wind up paying with his life.
Crow was elated when he got a letter from Gerald, which suggested he was willing to talk. He contacted the prison and received permission to have Stano temporarily returned to the county jail.
During interviews with Crow, Stano confessed to the murders of: 17-year-old Cathy Lee Scharf, of Port Orange, Florida, whose decomposed remains were discovered on January 19, 1974, in a ditch near Titusville, Florida; 24-year-old Susan Bickrest, of Daytona Beach, Florida, whose body was found floating in Spruce Spring Creek in December 1975; and 23-year-old Mary Muldoon, of Ormond Beach, Florida, whose body was discovered in a ditch in November 1977.
As Stano recalled each murder, Crow was awestruck at the sheer magnitude of the crimes. How could such a young man have committed so many murders in such a short period of time? It was mind boggling to the detective and he would spend the remainder of his career trying to comprehend it.
Stano went on to confess to the murders of 19-year-old Janine Ligotino and 17-year-old Ann Arceneaux, whose bodies were discovered in 1973 near Gainesville, Florida; 17-year-old Barbara Ann Baur, whose body was found in 1974 near Starke, Florida, and a yet unidentified woman, who was found in Altamonte Springs, Florida in 1974.
In addition there was: 34-year-old Bonnie Hughes; 18-year-old Diana Valleck; 21-year-old Emily Branch; 17-year-old Christina Goodson; 23-year-old Phoebe Winston; 18-year-old Joan Foster; and 12-year-old Susan Basile.
As their meeting was about to end, Stano remembered two others: 35-year-old Sandra DuBose, whose body was discovered on a deserted road near Daytona Beach in 1978; and 17-year-old Dorothy Williams, whose body was discovered in a drainage ditch near Atlantic Avenue in 1979.
Stano assured Crow that there were no other skeletons in the closet and that he had confessed to every murder he had ever committed.Anna Flowers (Blind Fury) and Terry Ecker (Murder One) both provide details.